Shaq's Got the Bulls' Back, White vs. Gafford, LaVine Dunks, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Shaq’s Got the Bulls’ Back, White vs. Gafford, LaVine Dunks, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Opinions on the Chicago Bulls’ reshaped roster have been mixed, but I don’t need to tell you that.

Some of the most recent optimistic projections for Zach LaVine and Co. have been middle-of-the-pack rankings, putting the team in the playoffs with one of the final two slots in the Eastern Conference. And, hey, considering this team has failed to make the playoffs since Dwyane Wade was in town (yes, that was not a fever dream), I’ll take what I can get. But I’ll also always take a little bit more optimism about what this front office has built. Fortunately, as they say, Shaq’s got your back!

•   Before the Hall of Famer hopped off the air with Stephen A. Smith the other day, he gave a little extra love to the Bulls’ new squad: “The Chicago Bulls will make a lot of noise too, I forgot. They’ll make a lot of noise finally.” Then, to put an even bigger smile on all of our faces, O’Neal proceeded to laugh in Smith’s face when asked why he did not bring up the New York Knicks as a feisty East team.

•   Let me preface my upcoming thoughts with the following: Re-drafts are generally silly and unnecessary. As someone who works in the basketball media sphere, it’s easy content that will usually stirrup strong engagement. When we all bicker about where certain players end up, we are feeding into pretty much exactly what the publication wanted/expected. So, with that said, I will not give Bleacher Report what it wants by complaining about Coby White’s placement in their latest 2019 re-draft. All I will say is he probably should not be moved back to 20th-overall behind former 31st-overall pick Nicolas Claxton.

•   JUST KIDDING! I’m here to pick a bone, and no one can stop me! Look, I can understand if Coby White is not currently viewed as the 7th-best talent in that draft class, but I’m also not sure he should plummet to the late first-round. Behind Ja Morant and Tyler Herro, White is still arguably the best bucket-getting guard in that class. And in a league currently built around offense and sharpshooting, that is a skill set all teams want. Sure, White’s efficiency woes and defense struggles do knock him down a few pegs, but I’m assuming we also still have to keep future potential in mind. White has played two very different roles over his first two seasons, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see him thrive in a more comfortable sixth-man sparkplug role once he returns fully healthy.

•   The bigger question for me, however, does not deal with where White is placed but who is in front of him. Are we really prepared to say Daniel Gafford should have been drafted ahead of White? According to B/R, the Bulls’ second-rounder should have actually been taken three spots ahead of White with the 17th selection. Both players project to be off-the-bench energy-givers at their respective position. Gafford might provide the far superior defensive upside, but he has continued to struggle with fouling and is extremely limited on the offensive end. I give him complete credit for his productive play once arriving in Washington (I was truly happy for him), but playing with an elite playmaker like Russell Westbrook is going to help a rim-running big man shine. In my opinion, I just think I would still rather have the high-upside scorer who has already scored 20+ points 24 times in his career and 30+ points six times. Again, this is nothing against Gafford specifically, but I also think White’s trait is harder to find than a lob-threat big man in today’s NBA.

•   Speaking of White, it sounds like his recovery is going about as good as it can be:

•   When in doubt … watch Zach LaVine dunk.

•   The man has spoken.

•   What the hell am I looking at?

•   I’d prefer … fewer injuries.

•   If the Bulls training camp battle is not juicy enough for you, the Blackhawks also have a good one in store:

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.